The week of my divorce, (yes, my divorce lasted only a week due to special circumstances) a friend taught me the phrase, she devil bitch dragon from beyond the deepest pits of Hell. It has become a very useful identifier for me. I’m one of those tiny, happy, laughing people (most of the time). Being tiny, female and a single mom in Mississippi is a bad thing. Some people think because you’re tiny and laugh, that you are weak and stupid. Some people think because you are divorced, that you are a “sinner”. Therefore, you are not worthy to share the air they breathe. So, as a single mother whose appearance belied the dragon inside, I needed to be “mean” at times. I wasn’t spewing vile words at people, I was surprising them with my intelligence and fortitude.
Recently Kim of “The Little Things” blog, has had some parenting quandaries. The emotional turmoil a parent goes through cannot be expressed with words. Not in English or any other language. I do have some suggestions on dealing with school systems. I’m not going to use the word advice. If you find something useful here good, if not, don’t let it cloud your parenting style.
- Know the your child. Analyze them like you would a competitor on the mat. Know their strengths and weaknesses. Know what drives them and what crushes them. Know how to motivate them. Know how to stop them. Know their friends and what their friends lives are like.
- Know the teacher. Analyze them like you would a training partner. Put yourself in their shoes. Tell them, “I have no idea what you are dealing with. What kind of problems do you run into? What challenges do you face?” If you are truly sincere, they will tell you. When you know their concerns, you can help them. Then you are no longer an enemy of theirs, but an ally. If you are a compassionate ally, they will be more likely to see things your way. Usually they just need little things to make their job easier. Once I provided crayons and washable markers for a class. Another time I provided Christmas presents (28 books at 99 cents each, and my friends at work helped me to wrap them). And on another occasion, I was a guest speaker. I talked about my job as a Respiratory Therapist the week before the children studied the pulmonary system. These little acts of kindness from me were rewarded with big acts of kindness from them.
- Follow the chain of command. There are some people in this world who could care less about right and wrong. If you have no luck playing nice with the teacher, go over their head, fast. Put your concerns in writing. If it’s not in writing, it didn’t happen. Include specifics like, who, what, where, when and why or how. Explain why this concerns you and that you expect a swift resolution to the problem. Research the school rules, the local codes, state laws, and federal laws. Be sure to include specific references to the appropriate document. An example would be, “according to the 504 code of the No Child Left Behind Act.” Send the letter by certified mail and require a signature. The US mail will then become a “third-party” witness of your attempt to communicate. If you are really up against a negligent system, use an Affidavit format. You can find these online. Also use phrases such as, “If a resolution is not found within ? days…” or “subsequent communications will be handled by my attorney”. Always give a time limit, and be prepared to seek legal counsel if your child’s welfare is in danger.
- Give your child permission to “handle it”. There may come a time in your child’s life, when they have to defend themselves. Educate your child on threat assessment. If the perpetrator is across the hall yelling obscenities, this is not a threat to your child’s physical well-being. If someone touches your child or comes within their personal space with inappropriate language, this is an immediate threat that needs to be stopped. *warning – stupid meaningless flashback to adolescence approaching* When I was in middle school, I was approached by a huge muscle-bound football player. He came into my personal space and said, “You got some big titties.” I answered with a straight right punch to his shoulder (that was as high as I could reach). He ended up becoming a really good friend. I helped him with math and he appointed himself as my personal body-guard. I’m not condoning violence, I could have just as easily screamed, “Get away from me you freak!” He was much bigger than I, crowding my personal space, and using inappropriate language. That is a threat!
- Educate yourself. There are excellent resources out there now. I’ve heard wonderful things about the “Bullie Proof” video series. There is nothing more dangerous than a knowledgable woman protecting her children.
It’s O.K. and sometimes necessary to be a She Devil Bitch Dragon From Beyond the Deepest Pits of Hell. So go ahead and unleash The Dragon Inside and teach your children how and when to do that as well.